Exhausted by endless hours in the kitchen, and struggling with personal issues, Bangkok award-winning Chef Davina Pickering found solace through this ancient Chinese medicine
By David James
Years of working in hot kitchens, rarely taking a break, long hours on her feet, eventually caught up with Bangkok-based British Chef Davina Pickering when she suddenly collapsed half-way through a work shift, totally exhausted.
Taken immediately to Samitivej Hospital, Davina was told by doctors that she needed to be admitted for tests and observation. The diagnosis resulted in needing two blood transfusions due to having dangerously low levels of white blood cells left in the body. Unwisely she insisted on returning to work which then resulted in hitting total exhaustion. A second emergency trip to the hospital ended in more blood transfusions.
When this happened a few years back, Davina realized it was a major wake-up call. At the young age of 35, she was burnt out and drained from all the long hours. “I had worked so hard and sometimes didn’t eat for 16 hours. Such was the passion and dedication I put into my job.
“But it allowed me to stop and rethink my life. I had to start looking after myself. I needed to get myself out of a physical and personal toxic situation.”
It was only after experiencing a particularly bad bout of sciatica in her back - a long-term problem related to an accident in her teens - that change actually came. Back in hospital, Davina’s physiotherapist suggested she should try acupuncture and introduced her to a specialist of this alternative Chinese medicine.
Today, eight years later, 44-year-old Davina, has turned her life around and resolved the many issues that she had carried over from her younger days in the UK.
Chef consultancy for a selected few clients became far less demanding. She now had time to focus on her passion for health and wellness.
Having been profoundly moved by the benefits of acupuncture, she decided to study the subject more closely, as an apprentice to a licensed practitioner. Now it forms an essential part of her next project - a “wellness platform” that also features nutritional advice and life coaching. She has plans to launch in Bangkok with the collaboration of other health specialists. It will signal a brand new chapter in her busy and often challenging life.
Born in Middlesex, England to a mother from Finland and British father, Davina originally wanted to be a veterinarian, but she accepted that her scholastic grades would not be high enough for this endeavor. A careers advisor asked what she enjoyed most in life. Davina excitedly exclaimed: “I like to eat!"
“So I took a hospitality management course that enabled me to experience every aspect of the industry. I ended up as a chef.
“London was my home base up until I was 27, and I worked in a number of top restaurants including Michelin-starred Rhodes in the Square as well as hotels like Claridge’s and Hilton on the Park, and on assignment for the Sultan of Oman. I also worked in casinos and a cruise ship.”
In 2005 Davina moved to Thailand, where her father and stepmother (her parents separated when she was three) had already retired on the island of Ko Samui.
But Davina came here with a different kind of mission in mind. “I was pursuing my passion and love of wellness with a focus on dedicating my life to exploring true health and life balance. I was desperately searching for a solution to bring me to peace with my health. I wanted to treat the root cause of all that I was carrying.
“I truly felt lost on every level, had no sense of direction or control in how I could stop the pattern of dependency that only worked at a surface level.
“I continued to slip into a deep depression. They were really tough times. I was a slave to ongoing treatment that created even more issues in my body as I continued to self-medicate to manage my pain. I was struggling on a very deep level with toxic choices.”
Fortunately, Davina was spotted by WWA, a high-end Bangkok fashion store and café to collaborate on a freelance basis as the creative mind behind the brand's menu. This same menu still continues to this day. “It’s the perfect marriage – they make a request and I am allowed as much time as I like to come up with the goods,” she says. “And that can mean as long as three months.”
This arrangement has allowed Davina the opportunity to set up other projects, including educational cooking classes for both children and adults. She also teamed up with Susan Jones to launch the Bangkok Supper Club, an exclusive fine dining chef’s table that caught the attention of international media, including a lengthy feature in the New York Times.
A career highlight came in 2018 when Davina won an episode of Iron Chef Thailand.
Until the collaborative Health and Wellness Center gets underway, she is developing this new career and business path by offering a range of services, including Acupuncture administered at a client’s home.
Davina explains how Acupuncture helps to eradicate any symptoms that show up in our body: anxiety, insomnia, bi-polar disorder, hair loss, migraine, skin and stomach issues, sciatica and depression to name just a few
For nutrition, she’s linked with Metabolic Balance, a German initiative that creates a meal plan supported by the testing of a patient’s blood values. A six-month package includes meetings, consultancy, blood tests and a meal plan
For the third element in her Health and Wellness project, Davina trained with Ignite Global, a professional coaching mastery class based here in Thailand, recognized by ICF. This program focuses on a wide range of subjects such as team building, health, wellness and trauma.
But Davina declares it is Acupuncture that occupies her mind nowadays. “It saved my life, so I'm working to do the same for others.”
Originating in China some 5,000 years ago, it’s a system that involves using needles to move the chi through the pathways to the organs. Your chi is your vital life force of energy like ‘electricity’ you are born with. It's used to alleviate pain & to treat various physical, mental & emotional conditions. It is effective at treating anything in the body that has gone wrong.
What Is Five Element Acupuncture?
Five Element Acupuncture treats the person as a whole entity at an organ level. The practitioner is guided by using the Laws of the Five Elements - Water Wood Fire Earth Metal. We all are born with an association towards one of the 5 elements more than the others. This constitutional factor guides the treatment and allows the practitioner to effect the root cause of the illness and not just temporarily quiet a symptom.
How Does Acupuncture Work?
Acupuncture is a method to access and release blocked chi through the meridian pathways by using a very fine needle which stimulates and moves the chi. This needling process allows the blocked chi to flow again. Once the chi is unblocked then the blood can flow. The blood contains everything the body needs to repair and regenerate any breakdown the body has developed since birth.
The body will make changes on a physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and sexual level after the needling. All symptoms are simply the way your organ can communicate that it is is experiencing a breakdown and needs assistance. The needling process moves the chi and blood to send assistance to the organ in distress.